The world’s smallest phone charger

http://www.3ders.org/articles/20150819-3d-printing-helps-uk-designers-develop-the-nipper-the-worlds-smallest-phone-charger.html

3D printing helps UK designers develop The Nipper, ‘The World’s Smallest Phone Charger’

When considering that nearly everybody carries a smartphone these days – in addition to their keys and wallet – it makes perfect sense why so many designers and manufacturers have been actively designing accessories ranging from speakers and cases to stands and sleeves for the mobile devices.  However, the one problem that everybody runs into is also among one of the most difficult to solve: battery life.

Inspired by the need to create a portable, on-the-go power solution for smartphone users that doesn’t involve carrying bulky cases or powerpacks, designers Doug Stokes and Chris Tait of Design on Impulse in the UK recently created what they are calling “The World’s Smallest Phone Charger” – AKA “The Nipper”.

Consisting of two AA batteries and a magnet that reside on a user’s keyring (the batteries are only installed when in use), the 10 gram Nipper is capable of charging smartphones while users are out and about or perhaps most importantly – during an emergency situation.

“The Nipper was primarily designed for emergency use,” explain the designers.

“When all else fails, when all hope is lost – in situations where you desperately need to use your phone but have no access to laptops, electrical sockets, wind turbines or solar panels the Nipper will be there for you.”

The design of the Nipper contains 3 neodynium magnets that are responsible for both making an electrical connection to the circuit board as well as holding the batteries together.  According to the designers, the circuit is actually a “boost converter” that converts the power from the batteries into a 5v power supply to charge your phone.  For today’s modern smartphones, this means that the batteries can supply an additional 10% battery capacity in 30 minutes, and 20% in just over an hour.

Like so many other hardware developers today, Stokes and Tait turned to 3D printing to make their idea for the World’s Smallest Phone Charger real – and have put the concept on Kickstarter to help it gain some traction; already, the campaign has surpassed their $10K goal by more than $3K and it has three weeks left to go.

“If we’re making small volumes of Nippers, we’ll 3D print the cases out of high quality nylon, but if demand is high and we have to make a full Nipper army we’re going to injection mold the cases out of polypropylene,” says the designers.

“The two halves of the Nipper are connected by either fabric or genuine leather straps. The neodynium are nickel plated on the classic Nippers, and gold plated on the premium Nippers.”

While the concept is certainly impressive, the fact that Tait and Stokes just graduated school together and entered a national design competition to develop The Nipper makes the story all the more impressive.

“One moment we were doing our finals and the next we were in the centre of London, working on a product we’d come up with in our flat which we’d been given support to make into a reality,” said Stokes.

“A lot of people who have just graduated are spending the summer travelling or trying to find a job and move out of home. But being able to go straight from university to working in Somerset House every day, where you’ve got Parliament on one side and St Paul’s on the other, is pretty amazing.”

Considering that the device comes in a number of colors and will likely expand to include multiple strap options, the charger is likely to fit with anybody’s style similar to modern smartphone case designs.

For those interested, a ‘Classic Nipper’ can be purchased starting at just $23 over on Kickstarter.

3ders.org

by Simon | Aug 19, 2015

http://www.3ders.org/articles/20150819-3d-printing-helps-uk-designers-develop-the-nipper-the-worlds-smallest-phone-charger.html

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3D printed smartwatch

http://www.3ders.org/articles/20150817-8-year-old-child-develops-3d-printed-smartwatch-kit-for-kids-to-learn-coding-and-3d-printing.html

8-year-old child develops 3D printed smartwatch kit for kids to learn coding and 3D printing

Due to the successes of the ever expanding maker revolution, it’s becoming more and more evident that 3D printers and basic programming need to be integrated into schools to prepare children for their future. Its therefore fantastic to see that children are already picking up making themselves. Just look at the eight-year-old aspiring programmer and maker Omkar Govil-Nair, who has already developed his very own 3D printed O Watch smartwatch and plans to make it available everywhere through a crowdfunding campaign.

Now we sometimes come across inspiring children who are so quickly and easily taking up programming and 3D printing, but few are as successful as Omkar. Like most eight-year-olds, he will be starting fourth grade this year and loves Star Wars, James Bond and badminton. But unlike most, he also loves working with Arduinos and 3D printing. ‘I got interested in electronics and programming 3 years back when I attended my 2nd Maker Faire. I was inspired by Quin Etnyre then the 12 year old CEO of Qtechknow. Since then I wanted to make my own product,’ he explains about his fascination.

But more than doing just a bit of tinkering, he has actually developed this cool-looking O Watch, an Arduino-based programmable smartwatch that is intended to give kids a bit of experience with programming and 3D design. Planning to bring this cool watch to market, it will come with a complete set of components that can be used to build the watch yourself and customize it with 3D printed cases and colorful straps.

As Omkar explained to 3ders.org, he was inspired by all the buzz around smartwatches. ‘I wanted one for myself. I was doing some Arduino project and decided to make my watch using Arduino compatible components. I thought it will be great if other kids can also make their own watches and that is how the idea was created. I always wanted to have my own company after I read about Quin Etnyre of Qtechnow and met him at Maker Faire in 2014, so looking to launch a crowd funding project,’ he explains. ‘I want to make this kit available with easy-to-use web instructions for other kids like me to make their own smartwatches and learn 3D printing and programming.’

As he goes on to explain, the O Watch is essentially an Arduino IDE build intended for basic use through four buttons. ‘You can program it using Arduino IDE. You can program it to function as a watch with date and time functions from Arduino, you can make games and apps and with the sensor board model you can also measure temperature, humidity, pressure as well as make a compass,’ he says. An integrated color OLED screen and a LiPo batter finishes the kit. One example that the boy already made is a rock-paper-scissors app, illustrating that it is a perfect option for learning some basic programming.

What’s more, Omkar did a lot of the work himself and the rest with the help from his dad. ‘I started learning 3D design using Sketchup about 6 months back with help from my dad and Sketchup video tutorials,’ he explains. They then started designs for a case about five months ago, with an eye on the Bay Area Maker Faire. ‘We tried several designs and printed many versions before we got the basic working model we used for the Maker Faire in May. After that we further improved it a bit to make the edges rounded,’ he explains. All 3D printed parts were completed on a Printrbot Simple Metal and in PLA, with a case taking anywhere between twenty and forty-five minutes to 3D print depending on the settings used.

This fun and impressive watch looks perfect for educational purposes, so it’s fantastic to hear that Omkar and his dad are also planning a crowdfunding campaign, which is set to launch later this month. The specific goal will be to raise funds for further improving designs and developing templates that can be easily used by children for customization and 3D printing options. The father and son duo are also aiming to develop two kits: one with the basic O Watch, and the second with an additional sensor board with a wide range of sensors for more build options. In short, plenty to keep an eye on. You can find the O Watch website here.

3ders.org

by Alec | Aug 17, 2015

http://www.3ders.org/articles/20150817-8-year-old-child-develops-3d-printed-smartwatch-kit-for-kids-to-learn-coding-and-3d-printing.html

Candy mechanics uses 3D printing

http://www.3ders.org/articles/20150720-candy-mechanics-uses-3d-printing-to-turn-selfies-into-edible-candy.html

Candy Mechanics uses 3D printing to turn selfies into edible candy

The 3D printing of food is one of the most exciting and amusing developments within the world of additive manufacturing, but hasn’t been able to recreate very detailed designs. Now a new British startup has put an unusual spin the production process to achieve a much higher quality. Called Candy Mechanics, they use 3D scanners and 3D printed molds to turn selfies into edible lollypops made in an impressive six different flavors. If anything, it really proves how much fun you can have with desktop technology and a creative mind.

The project in question is called Heads on Sticks, that has just completed a very successful six week trial at Selfridges London. Startup Candy Mechanics was founded by Sam Part and Ben Redford out of a love for fun and ridiculously awesome stuff. These two modern-day Willy Wonkas were fortunate enough to get on board with Makerversity, a pioneering making community established in 2013. They specialize in bringing innovative designers together with workshops, materials, tools and the environment necessary to develop a startup. Makerversity set the two makers up with a workshop in the iconic Selfridges London for six weeks, where they pioneered these fascinating edible lollypops with the help of customers from the streets and Selfridges’ staff members.

The final products are then made through a remarkably simple process. First, scans of customers are made, which are used to make 3D printed mini busts. These are then used to make molds, which can be filled with chocolate or any flavor you prefer. ‘In all seriousness though, there’s some incredible tech out there at the moment and we feel like it’s a great time to apply some of that tech to the world of candy. We’re not just about lollipops, we want to push the boundaries of how people think and interact with candy in all its forms,’ they say in an interview with Makerversity.

This process was developed during their trial at Selfridges. ‘We had six weeks to develop a product from scratch all the way through to retail,’ they wrote on their blog. ‘It was like christmas morning breaking open brand spanking new machines and all the tools we needed to get started.’ Their goal? To develop a kit that can be used to make your own chocolate heads. ‘In the kit we put a 3D print of you, chocolate, sticks, instructions & a custom made mould of your very own head,’ they add. This six weeks trial turned out to be an amazing prototyping period at one of the busiest shopping areas in Britain, enabling them to develop a fantastic product and get a lot of feedback.

This process has now prepared them for a production run of their six favorite flavors, all made with their custom production process. ‘Using 3D scanners, 3D Printers and 3D humans beings (you), we have developed a process that makes your face scrumptious, no matter what you look like,’ they write. The available flavors are: chocolate, raspberry and pistachio, banana and salted peanut, raspberry and black sesame seeds, salted corn and chocolate crumb, peanut and chocolate crumb.

And why lollipops? ‘Two reasons. A: We think everyone has always wanted to lick their own (or someone else’s) face. B: We also think that at some point, everyone has wanted someone else’s head on a stick. We’re just providing the means to do it – call us a public service,’ the duo explains.

But in all seriousness, cofounder Ben Redford explained what an impact 3D printers can make on original and small scale manufacturing. ‘3D printers have massively reduced the time to get from an idea to something that resembles a good working prototype. They’ve changed the making process because you can now make rapid iterations and developments on a product very quickly, hack other products with printed parts and even produce small batches of products from the comfort of your desk, kitchen or space rocket,’ he says. And when combined with a fantastic making environment like that provided by Makerversity, beautiful (and tasty) things can happen.

3ders.org

by Alec | July 20, 2015

http://www.3ders.org/articles/20150720-candy-mechanics-uses-3d-printing-to-turn-selfies-into-edible-candy.html

3D printed prosthetics for Ugandan schoolchildren

http://www.3ders.org/articles/20150603-3d-printed-prosthetics-get-ugandan-amputees-back-on-their-feet.html

3D printed prosthetics get Ugandan schoolchildren back on their feet

Although we’ve heard numerous stories about how 3D printing has helped enable hundreds of those in need of prosthetic limbs, a majority of the cases have been located in the United States or the United Kingdom where 3D printers or 3D printing providers are becoming increasingly common and access to a 3D printer is getting easier than ever before.  While this is excellent news, there are still many world locations where affordable prosthetic devices – and even 3d printers in general – are needed and could be used perhaps even more than those located in more developed Western countries.

In the meantime – thankfully – various organizations and 3D printing providers have been picking up 3D printing jobs as needed to ensure that those who need the prosthetic devices the most are getting the proper care that they need.  More recently, the University of Toronto and charity Christian Blind Mission took it upon themselves to produce prostheses for a Ugandan schoolboy who had been in need of a prosthetic device for years.

The schoolboy, Jesse Ayebazibwe of Kisubi, Uganda, tragically had his right leg amputated after he was hit by a truck after walking home from school three years ago.  Since then, the nine-year-old has been maneuvering with the aid of crutches – however they have since made it difficult to play or move around.  “I liked playing like a normal kid before the accident,” he said.

Thanks to the support of a local orthopaedic technologist, Moses Kaweesa of the Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services (CoRSU) in Uganda, Ayebazibwe was able to use an infrared scanner and some 3D modeling software to create a prosthetic solution for the young boy before shipping the files to Canada to be 3D printed.

“The process is quite short, that’s the beauty of the 3D printers,” said Kaweesa.  “Jesse was here yesterday, today he’s being fitted.”

While Ayebazibwe previously wore a traditional-style prosthesis last year, his new 3D printed prosthesis is among the first in a trial that could see more 3D printed prosthetic device across Uganda for others in need – thanks in no small part to the efforts of Kaweesa.

Currently, the entire country of Uganda has just 12 trained prosthetic technicians for over 250,000 children who have lost limbs, which are often due to fires or congenital diseases.  At $12,000, a portable solution consisting of a laptop, a 3d scanner and a 3d printer is not cheap – however when considering the impact that a portable prosthetic device system could have on over 200,000 children in need – in northern Uganda alone, many people have lost limbs due to decades of war where chopping off limbs was a common reality.

“There’s no support from the government for disabled people … we have a disability department and a minister for disabled people, but they don’t do anything,” said Kaweesa.  “You can travel with your laptop and scanner.”

Upon receiving his 3D printed prosthetic, Ayebazibwe was clearly ecstatic.  “(It) felt good, like my normal leg,” he said. “I can do anything now — run and play football.”

The boy’s 53-year old grandmother, Florence Akoth, looks after him, even carrying him the two kilometers to school after his leg was crushed and his life shattered. She too is thrilled.

“Now he’s liked at school, plays, does work, collects firewood and water,” said Akoth.

3ders.org

by Simon | Jun 3, 2015

http://www.3ders.org/articles/20150603-3d-printed-prosthetics-get-ugandan-amputees-back-on-their-feet.html

Disney develops 3D printed 2-legged robot!

http://www.3ders.org/articles/20150527-disney-develops-2-legged-3d-printed-robot-that-walks-like-an-animated-character.html

Disney develops 3D printed 2-legged robot that walks like an animated character

There are just a few companies in the world that need no introduction, and Disney is one of them. After all, who didn’t grow up watching Disney classics? But did you know that Disney does more than shoot box office hits, record terrible catchy songs and avoid theme park-related lawsuits? They also have an active Research Department charged with creating actual, rather than digital, creations which can be used for throughout the Disney imperium. And the department’s latest achievement is impressive: recreating the walking movements of animated characters in bi-pedal robots, which they have done using 3D printing technology.

As three scientists attached to the department in Pittsburgh – Seungmoon Song, Joohyung Kim and Katsu Yamane – explain, they set out to develop robotics that can be used to make Disney’s theme parks and toys more realistic and magical. After all, fit young heros from Disney’s movies and TV shows don’t exactly perform well when moving as stiffly as paraplegic grandmothers. ‘Creating robots that embody animation characters in the real world is highly demanded in the entertainment industry because such robots would allow people to physically interact with characters that they have only seen in films or TV. To give a feeling of life to those robots, it is important to mimic not only the appearance but also the motion styles of the characters,’ they write.

But this isn’t easy. As they write in an article entitled ‘Development of a Bipedal Robot that Walks Like an Animation Character’, the field of robotics struggles to capture life-like movement. ‘The main challenge of this project comes from the fact that the original animation character and its motions are not designed considering physical constraints,’ they write. And of course trying to tackle quirky and fast animated characters is even more difficult, as they movements are not typically designed to be physical correct. ‘[But in recent years] animation characters have evolved to be more realistic. Using computer graphic techniques, we can design 3D characters, and generate more natural and physically plausible motions with them.’

And you might be surprised to learn that their solution is somewhat similar to what you and I would do for a project: just 3D print it and add some servo motors. Of course it isn’t quite so simple, but to capture the exaggerated gait and movement of animated characters they first 3D printed leg components to match the structure of their potato-like character, which you can see in the clip below. ‘We start from animation data of a character walking. We develop a bipedal robot which corresponds to lower part of the character following its kinematic structure. The links are 3D printed and the joints are actuated by servo motors,’ they explain. All these parts were 3D printed using Stratasys’ Object 260 Connect 3D printer in RGD525 material.

Of course these need to be very specifically angled and positioned to ensure that 3D movement can be recreated. And Trajectory optimization software does most of the rest. ‘Using trajectory optimization, we generate an open-loop walking trajectory that mimics the character’s walking motion by modifying the motion such that the Zero Moment Point stays in the contact convex hull,’ they write. Now this process is more difficult than it sounds, but for a full description of data extraction and installing the mechanics you’ll have to dive into the full scientific article here.

But the results are obvious, though not perfect. The robot can definitely walk well, but doesn’t reproduce the digital models perfectly and has a tendency to wobble. ‘When we play back the optimized trajectory, the robot wobbles forward. It is because the robot does not produce the motion perfectly. For example, the stance leg flexes more and scuffs the swing foot at the beginning and end of the swing phase. This causes the swing foot to push against the ground and the stance foot to slip, which results in unstable walking,’ the scientists write.

One solution for this is slowing down the process. ‘We observed that the robot slips less as we play back the optimized motion slower, and the resulting walking looks closer to the optimized walking,’ they write, but conclude that the system just isn’t working optimal for now. While there are few options for more progress – including investigating structural materials and replacing 3D printed parts – it looks like we’ll have to wait a few years before running into mechanically-sound walking Disney characters at Disney world.

3ders.org

by Alec | May 27, 2015

http://www.3ders.org/articles/20150527-disney-develops-2-legged-3d-printed-robot-that-walks-like-an-animated-character.html

3D printed Avengers Ultron helmet

http://www.3ders.org/articles/20150502-prop-artist-uses-3d-printer-to-create-a-full-size-wearable-avengers-ultron-helmet.html

Prop artist uses 3D printer to create a full size wearable Avengers Ultron helmet

With the release of the latest Avengers Movie – Avengers: Age of Ultron – in theaters today, there’s likely to be quite a few participants of the cosplay community who will either be coming out with their latest Avengers-inspired costumes or, after seeing the movie, will be inspired to go home and start on their next cosplay costume project.

Among those who have already gotten a head start on developing their Avengers-themed cosplay costumes is Michael Ruddy, a popular cosplay artist who uses additive manufacturing technologies to bring his costume ideas to life.  Recently, Ruddy used his new gMax 1.5 XT 3D to print a full size, wearable Ultron helmet for a special client.

The gMax 1.5 XT, which is manufactured by gCreate, features 4,608 cubic inches of build volume – which is the best price-to-volume ratio for a 3D printer currently available on the market.  Although he could have printed the entire helmet in a single pass thanks to the gMax 1.5 XT 16” x 16” X 18” print volume capabilities, Michael elected to divide the helmet into four separate prints – jaw, main face, top, and ears. The jaw was printed at 0.15mm layer height and took roughly 13 hours. The main face portion was printed at 0.2mm layer height and took about 30 hours, with the ears at 0.15mm layer height for an additional 10 hours. Finally, the top half was printed at 0.3mm layer height and also took around 30 hours due to placing supports in the middle.

After Ruddy’s client – Sean Shaw of Shawshank Cosplay Props – received his 3D printed Ultron helmet, he immediately assembled the jaw, face, top and ear parts into a final assembly with glue.

Once it was determined that everything fit as intended and was the proper scale, Shaw used car bondon to fill the part lines of the assembly before sanding down the entire assembled mask.  Once he had reached a more finished stage, he followed the bondo with XTC-3D by Smooth On to further fill and smooth any remaining imperfections on the mask’s surfaces.

Once all of the mask’s surfaces were finished, the mask was molded using Smooth On silicone (Rebound 25 and Smooth Cast 300) to create a high-resolution mold from the original 3D print.

Finally, after casting the mask, the result was a wearable Ultron helmet that’s perfect for any Avengers fan – thanks in no small part, of course, to the ease of desktop and affordable 3D printing.

References:

3ders.org

by Simon | May 2, 2015

http://www.3ders.org/articles/20150502-prop-artist-uses-3d-printer-to-create-a-full-size-wearable-avengers-ultron-helmet.html

3D printing use to help teach blind girl

http://www.3ders.org/articles/20150417-father-uses-3d-printing-to-help-teach-his-blind-daughter-math.html

Father uses 3D printing to help teach his blind daughter math

While 3D printing technology has been steadily cementing its reputation as an excellent tool for help the disabled and people suffering from unusual medical conditions, one family from San Diego proves that we shouldn’t forget about the blind either. For one of Jason and Dori Walker’s daughters, Layla, is blind but is using 3D printed objects to ensure she doesn’t fall behind in school.

As father Jason explained in a brief documentary, he and his wife are raising a loving family with five children, of which three have been adopted. ‘When we started having kids and got married, we had two kids and lost a third one. We decided at that point to just adopt. My wife found these kids on a video on the Huffington Post. They were a set of three children, thirteen, ten and seven. They were looking for a forever home,’ he says.

This story already has everything to warm your heart, but unfortunately the eldest of the three, Layla, was born blind. The girl, who is currently in the eighth grade, was facing tremendous difficulties due to her blindness. Education, after all, is completely geared towards sight and while plenty of braille alternatives have fortunately been made already, lots of basic concepts in math, for instance, are very difficult to grasp when blind.

Father Jason, fortunately, happened to already have a ROBO 3D printer at home, which he quickly turned into an educational machine that turns intangible concepts such as fractures into tangible objects. ‘Layla’s predominant sense that she uses to see and learn the world is touch,’ mother Dori explains, so the parents set out to 3D print objects for their daughter. As Layla liked busses at the time, Jason first 3D printed a bus on his ROBO 3D printer to enable her to understand the concept of turning thoughts into objects. ‘I thought my dad bought it at the store. I asked for a bus and then a few hours later I could touch it,’ Layla said about that first print.

But it has since proven especially useful for understanding fractures, which teachers found difficult to explain to a blind person. As no simple teaching alternatives for the blind existed, Jason just decided to make one himself. ‘I started 3D printing pieces of pie and take them down to her and explain that this is a third and this is a sixth. Because in her mind, she thought that a sixth was bigger than a third because the number is bigger,’ Jason says. Helping his daughter feel and experience objects, just as you would draw a pizza for other struggling children, really helped. ‘I see with my hands so some ideas are hard, fractions are cool. And then geography was easier once I could feel the earth,’ Kayla said of these objects.

References:

3ders.org

by Alec | Apr. 17, 2015

http://www.3ders.org/articles/20150417-father-uses-3d-printing-to-help-teach-his-blind-daughter-math.html

3D printed the Microsoft HoloLens quadcopters

Our UAV is Online! Unmanned Drones Created By Holographic Design, Courtesy of Microsoft

http://goo.gl/GqhBkD

Two weeks ago Microsoft held another press event for their upcoming release of Windows 10, and this time their focus was on consumer possibilities. And for us 3D printing enthusiasts, there was enough to be excited about. For those of you who hadn’t noticed, Microsoft has been seeking to integrate 3D printing and scanning into the entirety of its product for a while now, and that trend is was continued in Redmond in January.

The main course of the press event? The Windows HoloLens, a Occulus Rift-type virtual reality device that should be a perfect tool for 3D design and 3D printing as well. As you can see in the video below, that cool feature was illustrated by the on-stage design of a futuristic quadcopter. Through a series of voice commands and taps in the air, the cool-looking device was realized in a matter of minutes, suggesting that 3D design could become easier than ever before by incorporating virtual reality.

Of course all of that is pure speculation – will it work as well in the hands of consumers? – for now, but the 3D printing community was certainly wowed by the quadcopter. The same can be said for the designers at Polish 3D printer manufacturers Zortrax, who have decided to 3D print a copy of that Microsoft design on their recently released M200 3D printer.

As the Polish team explained on their blog, “After seeing MS event, our designers became quite excited. The idea of holographic concept transferred into reality was tempting. They decided to recreate the quadcopter based on the video from the event. See for yourself and decide if it truly resembles the original one.”

While their design looks awesome, it’s not clear whether or not the Zortrax version can actually fly; no electronics have been shown, while the main body doesn’t appear to be hollow. As cool as it would’ve been to see it actually fly, this therefore seems to simply be a tribute to the possibilities that holographic design could bring to 3D printing. This is echoed by the Zortrax team, who said that the ability to imagine something and then sending it to your 3D printer is truly remarkable; ‘it seems like a quite promising concept for the 3D printing industry.’ And being reminded of that potential by this design is just making us more anxious about that slowly approaching release date.

3DERS.ORG
by Alec | February 4, 2015

3D printed car key

Ultra Expensive Car Key Copies May Become A Thing of the Past Soon Enough..

http://goo.gl/GUQojL

Does it ever happen at a convenient time? I suppose it’s central to the nature of keys that if one breaks while trying to lock, unlock or start something, it’s a bad time. After all, who touches a lock when they’re not trying to go somewhere, go to sleep or come home? And locksmiths can be a bit pricey, as I’m sure you’ve noticed.

Fortunately, the creative duo behind the Smith│Allen studio has been working on a 3D printed solution for this exact problem, so you’ll (theoretically) never have to worry about breaking a key again. Simply design and 3D print a new one! Now why you’d turn to 3D printing to solve this problem is beyond me, and as you’ll see in a moment it isn’t fool-proof either, but it nonetheless illustrates the unique manufacturing potential of 3D printing.

As they explained, a common disaster recently struck them too. ‘Disaster! My only copy of the my car key broke, I park on the street and have to move my car by Saturday 9AM today is Friday and I have to go to work. What to do? I could call an auto locksmith or take it in to the dealer but that would be expensive and take time. There has to be a better way.’

They have therefore worked on an upgrade to bring this key ‘into the 21st century’ by designing a new copy using free Fusion360 cloud-based 3D modeling platform (sign up as an enthusiast to gain access for free). Now this will require a bit of modeling work and a highly accurate printer (the key needs to fit, after all), so this project might not be for everyone. Smith│Allen relied on a Objet Connex 500 from Stratasys, but those aren’t exactly cheap. Alternatively, you could try Shapeways though that would mean sharing your key designs with strangers. Perhaps not the most comforting thought?

Nonetheless, their project is interesting. They initially made a series of photographs that properly capture all the key’s details and profile. To do so, ‘Lay the key down and get it as flat as you can. Try to get the light as even as you can. Take the photos from a bit further away than you think you would need to, taking them further away means the profile will appear ‘flatter’. The flatter the image the more accurate the trace will be.’

These photos can be used as your basic workspace in Fusion360 software, though you’ll also need to do some extensive measuring work with a pair of calipers to add all the details. In a nutshell, this requires several steps: ‘Use the calipers to measure the length and width of the key. Make a new sketch then a rectangle of the basic size of the key. Measure the keys thickest point and extrude the sketch to that volume.’

Next, you’ll need to add in all the grooves one by one, measuring them with your calipers and recording them in a 2D sketch. Check out Smith│Allen ‘s full guide for this on Instructables, but the process will entirely depend on the shape of your own key. This whole process can be very time-consuming, so beware. It might also take several iterations to get all the details right.

However, once you’ve reached a satisfactory stage, you can save your design as an STL file and 3D print it on your printer. Mind you, keys are typically subjected to a lot of strength and wear-and-tear, so make sure you the strongest possible filament. Also make sure to try it in a non-essential lock first, as your key can easily break off despite all your work – Smith│Allen’s key did. ‘I just went for it, and it worked…sort of. The key fit the lock and was able to turn, it broke when turning the additional bit to start.’

Not every story has a happy ending…

Truth be told, this guide doesn’t even have a happy ending, as Smith│Allen hasn’t yet succeeded replacing their key with a durable alternative. But it’s a very impressive and creative project nonetheless; why shouldn’t keys be 3D printed? But perhaps more can be achieved with a metal 3D printer…

3D printing with ice cream?

I scream! You scream!!

We all…. 3D print our ice cream?

http://www.3ders.org/…/20140717-3d-printing-with-ice-cream-…

We Scream for Ice Cream! Three students at MIT, Kyle Hounsell, Kristine Bunker, and David Donghyun Kim have created a ice cream printer using the principals of a fused deposition model printer.

Using a Cuisinart ice cream maker and a Solidoodle 3D printer, the team developed a device that prints soft serve ice cream. The modified 3D printer is housed inside of a small freezer and the extruded soft serve freezes as a line of liquid nitrogen blasts and keep it solid.

“We were inspired to design this printer because we wanted to make something fun with this up and coming technology in a way that we could grab the attention of kids. We felt that it was just as important to come up with a new technology as it was to interest the younger generation in pursuing science and technology so we can continue pushing the limits of what is possible.” Bunker told 3ders.org.

“First, we needed to print into a cooled environment so that the ice cream would hold its shape once printed.” the students explained. “We bought a small upright freezer which was large enough to both put the Solidoodle inside and allow for the full build volume we were aiming for.”

Then they needed a shield gas to solidify the ice cream as soon as it came out of the extruder. They built a system to spray liquid nitrogen onto the ice cream as it was extruded. “To ensure that the extruded ice cream ended up with constant characteristics, the cryogen line was bent in a circle to go all the way around the extruder and spray the liquid nitrogen evenly around the printed ice cream.” they explained.

Next the team needed to modify the Solidoodle 3D printer. The print bed had to be located outside of the original Solidoodle enclosure because the original print bed is located low in the enclosure making it difficult to fit the ice cream extruder nozzle and the cryogen line inside with it.

In order to be able to move the rigid cryogen line with the extruder head, they took the extruder head off of the Solidoodle and replacing it with “a printed ABS fitting with three holes to allow vertical movement of thin rods holding the print bed above the Solidoodle.”

Finally, they also needed to include a temperature control system for the printer to maintain the extruder nozzle temperature. Additionally extrusion nozzle needed to be kept around 18°F as soft serve is typically extruded around 18°F and starts to melt at 20°F.

Last, they settled on 1/8″ diameter extruder head for the ice cream to optimize the speed and size of the ice cream treat printed. “We felt that waiting more than 10-15 minutes for an ice cream to be printed would cause the consumer to lose interest.” they explained. “Additionally, this was a short enough time for the ice cream to keep its shape in the freezer would excessive liquid nitrogen being poured onto it. With a 1/8″ diameter we knew we could achieve some level of detail to get fun shapes but still print at a reasonable rate.”

With the cryogen line installed their final setting for printing is a 3mm layer height and 16mm/sec print speed.

“In general this technology would not be replacing any existing products or technology.” the students explained. “This is a novel process that we hope will get kids excited about the potential of the technology. We imagine this technology being marketable in ice cream parlors such as Dairy Queen where customers can order an ice cream treat, wait 15 minutes, and see the shape they chose be created. Of course last, and more importantly, we aim to enjoy the ice cream after successful printing!”

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